When smacking becomes slapping, punching, kicking

Consternation over the so called anti-smacking laws seems to have largely faded away as the sky remained unfallen.

The law change, flawed as it was, was intended to protect children more from when smacking goes bad.

This case seems to show the law working as intended, where a mother admitted a representative charge of assaulting her child.

ODT: Woman admits assaulting daughter

A woman was sentenced to six months’ supervision by Judge Bernadette Farnan in the Queenstown District Court on Friday, after she admitted assaulting her child over a period of four years.

The woman, who was granted final name suppression, initially denied four charges against her, of assaulting the girl, now aged 11, by slapping, punching and kicking her about the body between April 21, 2011 and April 30, 2012; and between December 1 and December 25, 2015; punching and kicking her about the body between January 1, 2014 and November 30, 2015; and assaulting the child with intent to injure her by slapping and punching her in the head on several occasions.

Perhaps this mother simply ignored the law and ignored a general social abhorrence of inflicting violence on children.

But when smacking is promoted as being ok it can send signals to some that it is a normal way of disciplining and punishing a child.

And one person’s smack can easily become another person’s slap, and if physical assault on a child becomes a normal behaviour it doesn’t take much for that to slip further towards punching and kicking, especially in stressful situations.

The simplest safest approach is to not smack or hit children at all so there is less chance of escalation.

This doesn’t mean a total hands off approach is necessary, but if there is any chance of hurting then it should be avoided.